Naperville officials’ work toward an updated strategic plan underwent fine-tuning when City Council members convened for a brief workshop meeting this week.
A major topic of conversation was traffic congestion in Naperville, and what can be done to help residents get around the city faster.
City Manager Doug Krieger said the session was designed to enable staff and council members to “touch base” after their initial look at the plan update in late July. The workshop also was intended to precede the community’s review and comments on the preliminary road map. Those phases will begin in October, with a final plan to be ready sometime in November.
Amy Emery, assistant to Krieger and leader of the project, emphasized that the workshop signaled the beginning of the conversation.
“Are we on the right track? Is there something that you expected to see that is not listed?” Emery said.
The trio of objectives for 2014 and 2015 includes some that will cost significant sums to achieve. Staff estimates suggest that improving traffic flow will require projects that cost in the millions, among them a switch to adaptive traffic signal networks on Washington Street and several other major thoroughfares that will respond to fluctuations in flow that arise from weather, special events or accidents; the overhaul of the North Aurora Road underpass; and a reconfiguration of the access around the train station south of Fifth Avenue just west of Washington.
Other endeavors will add nothing to the city’s spending, because they can be accomplished by reallocating staff time.
Bill Novack, head of the city’s Transportation, Engineering and Development department, noted that traffic congestion can never be fully eradicated. But he expressed optimism that relief already is on its way in the expansion of Route 59 already underway.
And he is certain that a centralized adaptive traffic control system, which will communicate with similar networks in place in adjacent communities, will help.
“Once we have systems that can talk with each other, we’ll be much better,” Novack said.
The police and fire departments have reached out to his department, he said, suggesting collaborative incident management procedures such as moving drivers involved in minor accidents off busy streets that also will improve motorists’ flow.
Discussions have begun with DuPage County, Novack said, to take on clogged areas that include portions of Ogden Avenue and 75th Street.
Pam Lafeber, city clerk, reported on some of the ideas that will enable the city to reach its goal of becoming an e-government innovator, such as expanding the range of payments that can be made online and arranging for overnight parking permits to be obtained through the city website.
She acknowledged that the steps proposed for achieving the goal may not reduce the workload for staff.
“In fact, it may increase staff workload,” Lafeber said, but she added that one main measure of success will be residents having greater ease in completing transactions with the city and needing to make fewer trips to the Municipal Center to do that.
Linda LaCloche, who is spearheading work on honing the city’s e-communications, reiterated that Naperville has mastered “pushing out” information, but currently has far fewer ways for residents to convey their concerns and needs through the existing website. Along with redesigning the site, proposals for helping the city boost community education and involvement include implementing a mass notification system and introducing a mapping tool to enable residents to customize their online interactions using an expanded “Your Place” mapping tool.
Councilman Bob Fieseler supported the idea of improving communication among departments as well. He related that when he went to address the suspension of his train station parking pass after a parking ticket incurred by one of his kids went unpaid, he had to make several stops that included bringing a slip of paper to the Municipal Center.
“It seemed a little primitive to me that I’m carrying papers and talking to different people,” Fieseler said.